Artists I Like- Lucas Foglia

In his series “A Natural Order”, Lucas Foglia turns his camera towards people who live off the grid as much as possible. He says about his subjects: “They do not wholly reject the modern world. Instead, they step away from it and choose the parts that they want to bring with them.”LucasFoglia_NaturalOrder_184

While some images depict the interior or exterior of his subjects’ dwellings, the photographs I find most compelling are those of the people themselves. The photos that I am posting here are therefore an edit of a body of work that was obviously already edited by the creator.LucasFoglia_NaturalOrder_374

Any reader of this blog knows that I find editing to be one of the most creative aspects of being a photographer. LucasFoglia_NaturalOrder_053Whether it is in-camera editing (done by deciding what to include or exclude from the frame), or post-shooting editing (including deciding which images are the “best, what order they should appear in, what kind of manipulation they should undergo in order to enhance what’s already going on in them, etc.), I really like that part of the process. LucasFoglia_NaturalOrder_443It demands critical thinking, problem-solving, looking very closely at everything.

I think that Luca Foglia does an excellent job at both in-camera and post-shooting editing. His photographs are thought-provoking and powerful.

Artists I Like- Vivian Maier

The Cincinnati Fotofocus Bienniel 2014 happened last month and I spent a considerable amount of time going to some of the exhibits that were up. Among the many that I liked, the show of Vivian Maier’s work stood out for many reasons.vi finding-images-slide-OCW9-jumbo

For those readers who are unfamiliar with her work, Maier was a nanny who worked primarily for families in Chicago. She was also a passionate photographer who would frequently go out into the streets with her Rolleiflex. She was a complete unknown until after she died in 2009, when her boxes of negatives were bought at auction and the images brought to the attention of others via exposure on the internet.

 

vivian_20Roberta Smith, in a NY Times review wrote that Maier’s work “may add to the history of 20th-century street photography by summing it up with an almost encyclopedic thoroughness, veering close to just about every well-known photographer you can think of, including Weegee, Robert Frank and Richard Avedon, and then sliding off in another direction. Yet they maintain a distinctive element of calm, a clarity of composition and a gentleness characterized by a lack of sudden movement or extreme emotion.”

Those sentiments sum up exactly what I was thinking when I saw this show. But I also couldn’t help thinking how unique this exhibit was, in that the artist herself had no hand in it. The prints were not made by Maier, nor were they made under her supervision. The curator chose the images, the mats, and the frames, and specified in what order they would appear. It’s rare that an exhibit happens under these kinds of circumstances, where the hand of the artist appears solely at the front end of the creative process.elle-vivian-maier-street-photography-8-de (As an aside, E. J. Bellocq’s Storyville Portraits series and Eugene Atget’s  photographs of turn-of-the-century Paris come to mind as other examples of this relatively rare phenomenon.)

In Maier’s case, I couldn’t help wondering if these images would have been those that the artist herself would have chosen to show us. What would she have picked instead? What themes would she have emphasized? As it was, the show was heavy on self-portraits and photographs of wealthy women in urban settings. It was fascinating to feel that Maier was not judging these women (ala Weegee), but rather observing them and presenting them to us for our own interpretation. I also vivian-maier-selfdidn’t feel that she was comparing herself to them directly, although the juxtaposition of seeing her in the self-portraits with these other women led the viewer in that direction.

The exhibit was very powerful and moving, and I spent a lot of time there thinking once again about the role that editing plays in creating meaning in artwork.

 

Artists I Like- Diego Goldberg

Yet another entry in the “long-term project” list: The Arrow of Time project by Argentinian photographer Diego Goldberg. Every year on June 17, Goldberg and his family members make an individual head-and-shoulders portrait of him-or-herself and place them on a timeline.

1976. Diego and Susy.

1976. Diego and Susy.

Over the years, the timeline has expanded to include the addition of spouses, children and grandchildren as they were born.

1984. Diego, Susy, Nicolas, Matias, Sebastian.

1984. Diego, Susy, Nicolas, Matias, Sebastian.

One of the most interesting aspects of this project is that the pictures are presented vertically, thus allowing the viewer to look at the face of only one person at a time through the years. At the same time that the viewer’s eyes take this in, one is still completely aware of the other faces on the periphery of one’s vision. It’s almost as if the others are lurking, daring you to see them.

2014. Diego, Susy, Nicolas, Matias, Sebastian.

2014. Diego, Susy, Nicolas, Matias, Sebastian.

Another aspect of this work that intrigues me is the singularity of the family members. They relate to each other only because each photograph in any given year is placed adjacent to the others, not because they coexist in the same physical space the way that Nicholas Nixon’s “The Brown Sisters” do. Goldberg and his family members each stare out at the viewer, giving us no sense of their connection to each other.

This project is a great example of how the presentation of photographs can create meaning, and how repetition can do the same.